78. Telegram From the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (Goodpaster) to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Wheeler)1

3162. Reference: JCS 12650 Oct 69.2

1.
I anticipate that the actions contemplated in reference, when applied within USEUCOM area, will be quickly picked up by our allies, and will be the subject of speculation and possible concern. We are checking now for possible effects on ACE exercises.3 They may find the actions hard to understand and to relate to the “sweetness and light” phase they have thought we were in (and have been promoting) reflected, for example, in US/USSR agreement on the seabeds negotiations and anticipated progress toward SALT discussions.4 Since the rationale for the proposed actions will be obscure, we may well be subjected to sensitive questioning here.
2.
Although I recognize the probable close-hold nature of the decisions leading to the directed actions, I would appreciate any further information you could provide which could give us our bearings a little more clearly and thus perhaps reduce the probability of exposing ourselves to unnecessary embarrassment with our allies. In particular, it would be good to know what notifications and responses will be given to them by U.S. officials. If a check of our commitments and obligations [Page 271]in this regard has been made, I would be grateful to have a copy.5
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 218, Records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Records of the Chairman, General Wheeler, Box 111, 381, World-Wide Increased Readiness Posture (Oct. 69). Top Secret; Immediate; Eyes Only. An information copy was sent to General David Burchinal, Deputy CINCEUR. A handwritten note on the telegram informed Wheeler that a response would await his meeting at the White House scheduled for that day. The telegram bears Wheeler’s initials, indicating that he saw it.
  2. Document 76.
  3. According to a memorandum from Wheeler to Laird dated October 14, EUCOM was scheduled to participate in Fairplay 69, a NORAD command post exercise held concurrently with High Heels 69, an annual exercise by United States worldwide military commands and selected civilian agencies. (National Archives, RG 218, Records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Records of the Chairman, General Wheeler, Box 111, 381, World-Wide Increased Readiness Posture (Oct. 69)) According to an undated brief prepared in the JCS, High Heels 69, to be held October 15–23, was “designed to exercise U.S. General War Plans on a worldwide basis in the course of simulated exercise play.” (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Haig Chronological Files, Box 958, September 1969)
  4. The United States and the Soviet Union submitted a joint draft seabed treaty to the United Nations Conference of the Committee on Disarmament in Geneva on October 7. The first round of strategic arms limitations talks between the United States and the Soviet Union began on November 17 in Helsinki, Finland.
  5. Wheeler responded to Goodpaster later that day. His telegram reads in part: “I share your concern over the paucity of information which we have provided. Since the beginning of this readiness test we have appreciated the difficulties you would encounter in working with our allies.” However, Wheeler continued, “Direction for this operation stems from higher level and additional background information is not available. There is at present no plan to notify our allies of this operation.” Wheeler concluded by informing Goodpaster of his hope “that as we get deeper into this test we can acquaint those across the river with the many complexities that may arise as we continue and modify our actions and disclosure policy accordingly.” (National Archives, RG 218, Records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Records of the Chairman, General Wheeler, Box 111, 381, World-Wide Increased Readiness Posture (Oct. 69))